Back on Land

One Navy wife making a life back on land.


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Sink, Survive, or Thrive: Week 1

Last week was a bit rough. My oven broke, my new dog is STILL pooping on the carpet, and oh yeah … I freaking miss my husband. Despite all that, today I choose to thrive.

Sink, Survive, or Thrive

I’ve been Navy wife for a long time, and I’ve been through more patrols than I’d like to count (though the hubs likes to remind this is number 14). Over time I’ve noticed a few trends.

  1. I cope better when I’m happy. Duh. Patrol is easiest when you’re happy, right? Of course, but what I mean is when I am already happy, disappointments, let downs, or struggles are easier to handle. If I wake up in a good mood, enjoy a great cup of coffee, and get everyone to school dressed, prepared, and on time, a flat tire on the way home – as much as it sucks – is one bad thing in a day full of pretty darn good. Whereas if I wake up late, run out of coffee filters, and run late for everything, that flat tire is going to end with me shaking my fists at the heavens and yelling curse words at Big Navy.
  2. I’m happy when I’m in control of things. This is another “duh” if you know me, amiright? When I have a clear vision for the day including a to do list, a schedule, and a plan, I feel in control, and once again, when I feel in control of most things a few “out of control” moments are easier to manage.
  3. I’m in control when I plan to be in control. My very best days begin with a good cup of coffee and clean sheet of paper. I make a list of any housework I need to do (dishes, laundry, etc), lists to the side if I need to pick things up at the store, and a list of appointments (from preschool drop-off to FRG meetings to swim meets). I check things off as the day goes by, and by the end of the day I have a visual reminder that I’m getting it done. On the other hand, if I have no plan, things get missed/forgotten/messed up, and by the end of the day, all I have to show for it is a bad mood.

 

I guess what I’m saying is that a big part of thriving is choosing to thrive. You have to decide how to make yourself happy, and do that with purpose. Your happy make not come in the same way mine does. You may not need control and lists and schedules. Maybe you need free time. Maybe you need music. Maybe you need a weekly coffee date with friends. The point is take stock of what makes you happy and do that thing often. Make a conscious effort to be happy, and you will thrive.

Last night I set my coffee maker up in advance set I could wake up to the aroma of my favorite brew. I left my favorite notebook, my calendar, and a new pen next to my laptop beside my favorite chair. I put away the last load of laundry before I feel asleep. I am ready for the day, and I already feel great. Bring it on, world!

Because today I choose to thrive.

-Jodi

 

 

 


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Danger! Danger! Get Out of the House!!!

I have a little story to tell you about a very seasoned Navy wife whose first patrol after shore duty was a complete and total disaster. This Navy wife, living at a duty station she’d quickly grown to hate, made the subconscious decision to sit in her family room forever with nothing but the internet and trashy reality TV to keep her company. She stopped leaving the house except to buy groceries and pick up the occasional Big Mac.

She had three children. The two oldest went out to school each day and then came home again to sit in the family room with her. The third was quite young, and she simply crawled and then toddled and then walked around and around the family room, confined to the space to which her mother had confined herself.

You might think that this life filled with nothing was not very conducive to finding friends, making memories, or even living, and you would be correct. It wasn’t a life, and she wasn’t happy leading it. In fact she was quite sad. She missed her friends “back home” and wished everyday that she had a reason to get dressed, somewhere to go, and someone to see when she arrived.

Luckily, the very seasoned Navy wife accidentally found an out, Mother Nature provided some much needed sunshine, and her self-imposed confinement came to an end. Summertime, a class called Compass, and her children’s cries to GET OUT saved her, but she vowed never to forget the feelings of sadness and isolation of those first months and her own later bewilderment at how even a seasoned spouse like herself could get sucked into such a painful cycle.

Today she writes this blog called Back on Land, and she hopes that if you are reading this and you identify with her self-confinement, that you will see the error of her ways and get out of your house. She knows it seems easier said than done. She knows the not leaving may seem much easier than heading out into a world you feeling like you’re saving yourself from. She also knows how much happier she is now in the outside world, and she wants to share a few tips for finding your own happy in the outside world.

  1. Take a shower and get dressed … right now. Yoga pants won’t cut it. Real clothes are necessary in the real world.
  2. Get the kids up and ready, too, if you have them.
  3. Get in your car and go.

 

It can be that simple.* Get. out. of. your. house. There are a million places in the world better for you than the prison your house can become. Find a playground for your kids to play at and play with them. Explore a local park and walk a trail or two. Go to a lake or a beach, and walk along the waterline. Look for an outdoor market. Walk the sidewalks of your city and window shop. Pack a picnic basket and a big blanket and find a shady spot to lunch. Bring a book, find a tree, read and repeat.The gist here is GET OUTSIDE and MOVE. Fresh air, sunshine, and a little exercise can be a great jump-start to your dead battery, and sometimes a little jump-start is exactly what you need to get your engine going!

This very seasoned Navy wife I know. I’ve been there, and I hope to see you outside again very soon.

 

mil1source

*This seasoned Navy wife also recognizes that for some people this self-confinement is more than just a case of being sad. Depression is real and certainly requires more than her “get some sunshine and take a walk” approach. There are many resources for military spouses who are affected by despression, but for now I’ll throw out one that is available and accessible to all military spouses: Military OneSource

 


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Sink, Survive, or Thrive: It’s My Choice

One day last week I woke up missing my sailor, and I shared it all here. I wrote it in a raw moment on an emotional day, and in that moment it felt good to let a bit of my pain out. According to a few of the comments I read, it was good for some of you, too. It was a true blessing to read things like,

“It helps to hear another wife say, out loud, the things I am feeling too!”

However, missing my sailor is only a part of the story. The true tale of deployment is how I manage those emotions, help three kids cope, and keep this life  running smoothly Back on Land while the other half of my heart is at sea, and I need this blog to reflect all of it … sink, survive, or thrive. We all have all three kinds of days, and I want this little space on the internet to be a spot where you can come no matter what kind of day you having. I want you to be able to come here to either commiserate, gain encouragement, or share in the light of success.

Soooo … on Monday I’m beginning a new series called “Sink, Survive, or Thrive.” I’ll share each week where I am, what I’m feeling, and how I’m managing it all. I hope to be sharing a whole lotta Thrive, but I promise to share the sinks and survives as well. I encourage you to share your place on the Sink > Survive > Thrive scale in the comments, on your own blog, or other media platform as well as any tips or tricks you have to pull yourself always upward.

Sink, Survive, or Thrive

I’ll be back on Monday (and I hope you will be, too), but until then I hope you THRIVE!

~Jodi


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I Freaking Miss My Husband

These are the days when this life gets to me.

When I’m just a little stressed and sharing it with him would make it all better. I freaking miss my husband.

When the oven dies in the middle of cooking dinner, he’d be the one getting angry for no reason instead of me. I freaking miss my husband.

When my day has been long, and I know that even though his was as well he would offer to take on story time so I can get a break. Then he would stay upstairs for two extra stories because daddy’s girl asked him to. I freaking miss my husband.

When first days of school are being had. Last first day in junior high. Last first day in preschool. Possibly last first days in Washington. I freaking miss my husband.

When I wake up in the morning, and it’s cold. When my bed is much colder than when I laid down alone the night before. I freaking miss my husband.

I have nothing to complain about really, and I know that. The stress is from a job I choose to do. The oven will be replaced on the owner’s dime. Story time is precious, and last first days aren’t that big of a deal. But all of these things are our things, and having them without him is simply one more reminder of the cold, hard fact that he isn’t here.

I have nothing to complain about because I am so proud of him. Because we’ve done this before and will do it again. Because I know all the tips and tricks. Because I know he will come home again … safe and sooner than most.

I have nothing to complain about … I just freaking miss my husband.


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On the Age Gap

So …. my kids.

I have three of them. Three daughters. Their ages are 16, 13, and 4. Most of the time I find the age gap to be … troublesome. Playdates? For Alli, yes, but then Aubrey and Sydney are left out or left home. A trip to Seattle? Great for Aubrey and Sydney but will Alli be able to keep up with all the walking? Will she be grumpy without an afternoon nap? Even hanging out with family friends can be weird because most of our friends have either littles or bigs, not both like we do, and I have to figure out how make it work for everyone.

Every single activity takes twice the planning, can be very tiring, and always keeps me on my toes.

But …

Sometimes straddling both worlds is amazing.

Today for instance I have snuggled with a little sweetie on the couch AND  had a beautiful conversation with my oldest about being happy with what we have. I witnessed the wonder of growing tomatoes through fresh young eyes and shared a rare teen hug with Sydney. I watched as the youngest shows of newly acquired sandwich making skills and looked ahead at the days when she will be as competent in the kitchen as both Alli and Sydney are growing to be.

I think I too often complain about the age gaps in our kids because it does require so much extra of me, but at least for today I’d like to step back and really see what a blessing it is to have toddler creativity and adolescent deep thoughts, preschooler energy levels and the teenager chill breaks.

So … I have three kids … ages 16, 13, and 4 … and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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Girls on Submarines (Or Rather MY Girl on Submarines)

Last week a friend posted a link to Facebook entitled Enlisted Women to Join Sub Crews Starting in 2016 along with the comment “A recipe for disaster.” Before I gave it a second thought, I quickly commented back … in writing … on Facebook.

I disagree. I think they have already done a great job integrating female officers and have nicely paved the way for enlisted women.

Let me just tell you that this one little comment goes against all my own Facebook rules because I have a strict do-not-argue-on-Facebook-because-Facebook-arguers-look-stupid policy. I was very quickly (but surprisingly nicely) disagreed with, and I quickly bowed out of the conversation. I even hid it from my News Feed the same way I used to hide under my blankets in the dark. Only this time I wasn’t afraid. I was annoyed.

Annoyed at what I feel is sexism. Annoyed at women of the opinion to keep other women down. Annoyed at what I see to be petty excuses for keeping at bay a change that is inevitable.

The topic came up again later in the week, and I was asked for my opinion. So hear it is.

I’m for it. Simple as that. I want women on submarines, more of them every single day. I am beyond proud that my husband serves on a submarine with female officers on board, and to be completely honest, in the few instances that I have had the opportunity to speak to those incredible women, I have been quite star struck. I am a strong woman. I am drawn to strong women, and I am, dare I say, awed by the trails these women are blazing. They will be drawn into history as pioneers. Little girls will look up to them.

I happen to have three such little girls.

On a recent Family Day, when all the families of our boat were invited to visit the submarine, Josh and I took our three daughters past the checkpoint, across the brow, and down the ladder into his world. He was a wonderful tour guide, and over the next few hours we visited the Control Room and tried out of the periscope, listened to the water through giant headphones in Sonar,  and even visited dad’s work space in DPER. We climbed ladders, crouched through water tight doors, and even ate chicken nuggets and drank Bug Juice on the mess decks. While we tried out the couches in the Goatlocker, Sydney, age 13 and averse to all things educational, said, “I want to be on a submarine when I grow up.” Sydney, who normally wants nothing more than to watch her shows on TV or another turn on the computer to play games, wants to be a Submariner. She wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and serve her country.

And to me, to this momma, that trumps all the excuses you could have against it. I want my children, my daughters, to have every opportunity available to them. Succeed or fail, I want them to be able to try, and I felt a little guilty explaining to her that at present there are only a handful of women serving on submarines, that this is not something that is openly available to her.

This momma believes in a woman’s right to serve on a submarine.

Of course I’m not so naive as to believe this change won’t have problems. Big changes often require … well … BIG CHANGES. I don’t think it’s impossible though, and apparently neither does the United States Navy.

And then there are the “buts” …

But why would a woman even want to be stuck in a tin can under the water for three months with 150 men? I often wonder why any MAN would want to be stuck in a tin can under the water for three months with 150 men.

But what if they get pregnant? Because clearly no woman ever was able to control her hormones around men who reek of boat smell. Seriously though I suppose she would be relieved from that duty and replaced or not, the same as when a man has a medical requirement to leave the boat and is replaced or not. Manning on a submarine is never perfect. You’re a man or woman down? Okay, that’s great. Get back to work. (And that’s not just my opinion; that’s just reality.)

But what if a woman was assaulted on a submarine?  That would be awful. It would be terrible, but sadly it wouldn’t be anything that doesn’t happen on any other Navy vessel that women are already serving on. Just as on those other vessels, it would be dealt with by the command. I don’t think that because it might happen on a submarine it would be dismissed any more or less than anywhere else in the military. It is a sad fact that these assaults happen, but they happen because of bad service members, not because of where a female happens to be serving.

But are women even physically capable of doing the same job? This is one of my personal favorite buts to which I answer…  some of them yes … and some of them no. I have known women who built houses, fixed cars, lifted heavy things, and did also sorts of so-called manly jobs. I have also known men that I outworked every day of the week. Women, like men, come in all different shapes and sizes with a variety of different abilities. I absolutely hate the idea of painting all women, or men for that matter, with the same brush. Just as not all men are pigs; not all women are 90-pound weaklings.

I guess my point is this. I know big changes will have to be made, but I don’t believe they are impossible or even improbable. I know problems will arise, but I believe in the Navy’s ability to solve them. I know that not every woman is suited for sub life, but I also know not every man is so suited either.

Most importantly, I know that my Sydney wants to be a Submariner, and I am thankful to live in a day and age when, succeed or fail, she will have the opportunity to try.

P.S. Thank you so very much for reading this, but please be aware:  This is not an open forum for argument. I may or may not answer comments, and I am may or may not delete any comments that are mean or rude. This piece is nothing more than one momma’s opinion, and whether you agree or not won’t change my mind.


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5 Reasons Deployment is Awesome

I run the usual gamut of emotions before each and every patrol. I get argumentative with my sailor beforehand, and I cry when I think of him leaving again. I get angry with him/the boat/the Navy when things would be much easier if he were home to help me manage them. I feel lonely on duty nights, reminded of the many long lonely nights ahead of me. I sometimes even wonder if our lives wouldn’t be much better if my sailor would simply leave the Navy. He would be home, every day, all the time, and I wouldn’t have to deal with the emotional toll deployments take on our whole family time and time again. It might be kinda nice, you know?

But without another (and another and another) deployment looming, I’m reminding myself that it isn’t all bad. In fact a few parts are downright awesome!

  1. Watching a submarine in motion is a beautiful thing. I am incredibly proud my sailor, and even though watching him sail away is difficult, knowing he proudly serves our country eases the pain. I feel so blessed to share those bittersweet moments with my kids and with a special group of spouses I am so proud to call my friends.
  2. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. Josh and I argue and fuss like any other couple, but it’s much easier to forget all the nit picky things you don’t like about your sailor (like maybe leaving the empty milk jug on the counter every single time, dear!!!) when you haven’t seen him in weeks or months. Distance really brings into focus what’s important!
  3. Mail drops. Of course I like sending care packages, but I really like receiving mail in return. It feels very special reading his private thoughts and knowing all the things that little envelope went through to get from his heart to mine.
  4. I’ve missed my boat friends! Some spouses have a tendency to shut out the world while their sailor is home to maximize every possible moment. I may or may not be guilty of this behavior (wink-wink), so when the boat leaves and we they  come out to play it’s like reuniting with old friends all over again!
  5. Homecoming! I love dreaming about it! I love planning it! I love living it! Homecoming is one time when I feel a little sorry for civilian families that never get to experience that amazing feeling when you see someone you love, someone you’ve missed and worried about and longed for for months on end for the very first time. It’s kind of like having that first kiss one more time. Only I get to enjoy that moment over and over again!

 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not some Susie Sunshine who thinks everything is perfect. It isn’t. I know as well as anyone that there are bad days and that things will break as soon as he leaves, and  I know all about the deployment blues. However, I also know that attitude is everything, and my deployment choices include either simply making it through each day or choosing to make each day beautiful.

Honestly? Some days I just barely make it through… The rest of the time though I choose to be mindful of all the blessings that each day brings no matter if my sailor is here to enjoy them with me or not.

 

 

 

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